Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
The ice is on the move on the St. Lawrence River. Outside my home today the river has been changing every hour. Some times it is filled with ice the next moment ice free. The Seaway has yet to open but signs of life were present today as a US Coast Guard boat moved west towards Ontario from Montreal (below). Some geese were actually along on an ice flow for the ride downstream at about 9am. The weather will remain fair and mild this weekend in our area with just a chance of showers Sunday.
Thankfully here in the east it appears flooding will not be an issue. It has been a very dry month in Ontario and Quebec and most of the snow is now gone. The same can’t be said for western North America. A stubborn storm track has been producing severe weather on a weekly basis in March. The most recent blizzard that affected the Dakotas and Manitoba has been replaced by another equally severe storm. Low pressure has moved form Colorado into the southern plains. Heavy snow and blizzard conditions are being reported from Colorado to northern Texas while south and east of there thunderstorms and tornadoes are occurring from Louisiana to Florida. This storm will be replaced by another on Sunday and yet another next week. As long as the storm track remain out west the weather will continue to be mild and dry here in Ontario and Quebec. Yesterday both Montreal and Ottawa recorded about 8mm of rain, only a drop in the bucket, and that was the single largest precipitation event for this month. So as you can see in stark contrast to last year it is very dry.
The severe flooding along the Red River in North Dakota has slowed slightly because of colder weather, but still remains serious. The river is expected to crest at 43 feet near Fargo this weekend. That would be the highest flood on record. Further downstream in Grand Forks and northward into Manitoba, they continue to prepare and hope for the best. The weather is not expected to cooperate with the chance for more significant precipitation across the watershed this weekend and into next week.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
A large swirling storm system in the central portion of North America is spinning north into western Ontario today. This storm has been responsible for heavy rain and snow across the Dakotas and Minnesota north into Manitoba. Some areas have received over 20 inches of snow. Strong winds have produced blowing and drifting snow along with zero visibility. East of the snow line it is heavy rain and lots of it on the already swollen Red River Valley. Thunderstorms and nearly a dozen tornadoes have also been reported along the trailing cold front. The storm will slide northward while the frontal system moves into Ontario and Quebec with rain on Thursday.
The Red River flows north from the Central plains into Manitoba. It is the dividing line along the North Dakota and Minnesota border. I had the advantage of crossing over the bridge you see in the photo above back in 1997. It was two months after this photo was taken. The 1997 flood broke records on both sides of the border for its depth, movement, extent and damage. When I travelled through Grand Forks, North Dakota in June 1997, there were still images of the devastation everywhere, including the building in the photo below.
There are indications that this years flood could be worse. Flood forecasters are expecting the river to reach almost 42 feet at Fargo this week. Yesterday volunteers packed hundreds of thousands of sandbags in an effort to save the town. Further north in Grand Forks where the photo was taken, they are preparing for the crest some time next week. All this water along with any new precipitation will flow north into Manitoba by early April. Civil Defence and Emergency officials are already preparing for what could be a record year. This story is just beginning and you will hear plenty about it over the next couple of weeks. For a complete history of Red River flooding and current updates check out the link below.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Big changes are underway for Manitoba and Saskatchewan and this may, and I say may set the stage for a late winter storm here in the east towards the end of the month. Portions of Manitoba and the Dakotas are preparing for heavy snow and blizzard conditions by late Monday with wind and arctic cold in Saskatchewan. This will be thanks to low pressure moving from Colorado to northwest Ontario. Heavy rain and thunderstorms will change to snow by late Monday with conditions deteriorating quickly by days end. It will snow well into Tuesday with very strong winds and impossible travel conditions in that area.
Here in the east this week will be just as calm as last week with no major systems in sight.
Friday, March 20, 2009
March 20, 2009…from www.almanac.com
Vernal Equinox, 7:44 A.M. EDT
The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." The vernal, or spring, equinox is the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, signalling the beginning of nature's renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.
Spring has arrived, and whew we seem to have made it through another winter. It is a little cooler around most areas this morning with temperatures down around –8C. It will warm to the freezing point today, a little below normal for the first day of Spring. The weekend looks excellent with just a chance of a few widely scattered showers along a cold front overnight Saturday. Sunday is the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Montreal. A betting man would have expected snow on that day but not this year. It should be ideal but a little cool so dress well.
It has been an abnormally dry month across the region, and as the snow disappears and very little precipitation has fallen it appears most flood concerns have passed. It is so dry in some places that fire bans are in effect including St. Lawrence County in New York. The normal precipitation for Montreal for March is 77mm. So far this month we have only had 15mm with only 2.4cm of that being snow. This is such a different scenario than last March for certain.
Enjoy the weekend and be safe.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Admit it, we deserve this. After what seemed like a cold, long, icy, snowy winter, we are enjoying a very spring like weekend, one week early. Spring does not arrive till early Friday morning, but you would not be able to tell that this weekend. After temperatures between plus 5 and 10C yesterday we are already at 7C today at 11am in Montreal and Kemptville. The sun is warm, what is left of the patches of snow is melting, and dare I say I even saw a bud or two on the trees and some green patches on the lawn. Enjoy the weather it will be mild all week.Above: A spectacular sunset along the Canadian border in Champlain, NY last evening. The smaller photo is buds on the trees along Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, NY.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I always love how at this time of year spring comes first to the sunny side of the street. At my parents place in Lasalle, QC., their front yard gets the sun all day and has no snow left, just brown grass. The back yard - in the shade - has nearly 2 feet of snow in it. Can you say micro climate!
Be safe and enjoy the mild weekend. Travel in all areas of eastern Ontario, western Quebec and New England/New York should be great. Further south for spring breakers there could be some weather in the form of rain and freezing rain across the Tennessee Valley and the middle Atlantic region. Flying, no problem, driving you may encounter some icy roads midway through your trip to Florida or other points south.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
High winds along a sharp cold front have been gusting over 70km/h across Ontario and Quebec today. Winds have been recorded at 93km/h in Kingston, 68km/h in Montreal and 82km/h in Toronto. The strong winds have cut power to over 10,000 homes serviced by Hydro One in Ontario. No data is available as usual from Hydro Quebec. Colder air is also moving into the region. Toronto was 8C this morning and dropped to –1C by 4pm. Montreal reached 10C at 2pm but it has since dropped to 6C.
The wind is also playing havoc with driving along highway 20 both in the southwest corner of the province near the Ontario border, and southeast of Montreal along the south shore. The SQ is advising large trucks to travel with great caution. Back in February during a similar storm 2 semis were blown off Highway 20 near St. Bruno.
Photos: Above A warning on the Champlain Bridge today. At left Hydro Quebec was kept busy with today's strong winds.
Environment Canada has issued High Wind Warnings for all of the southern and eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Winds are increasing this morning across the area in response to an advancing cold front. Look for the strongest winds to be along the St. Lawrence River Valley where they will gust over 90km/h. Most areas will see 50-70km/h winds. Winds this strong can cause damage and are dangerous on open highways. The rain associated with the system is falling now over the entire area, and it is heavy at times. It should taper off this afternoon and we may even see a glimpse of sun.
Northwest of the area of low pressure, on the cold side of the storm, blizzard conditions were reported across northwest Ontario, Minnesota and the Dakotas. Numerous highways had to be closed due to strong winds, deep snow and zero visibility, including Interstate's 29 and 94.
Left: Trying to keep the roads open in Fargo, North Dakota
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Winds are forecast to increase in all portions of Ontario and southern Quebec and gust from 30-50km/h tonight and overnight and increase out of the southwest 50-80km/h along the cold front later Wednesday. Winds this strong can cause damage and warnings may be required.
Further west heavy snow with blizzard conditions are forecast across the Dakotas and into Minnesota, Manitoba and northwest Ontario as a result of his same storm.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Low pressure over the western Great Lakes is moving east across New York State tonight and Monday. The storm has already produced heavy rain in Windsor and Detroit with warnings in place there. The rain has caused flooding in spots. Nearly 50mm of rain has occurred with thunderstorms as well being reported. The precipitation is creeping into the GTA at this hour. In Eastern Ontario and Montreal it has been a spectacular day, plenty of sunshine and very mild spring like temperatures. All that will end overnight as the precipitation shield begins to edge towards Kemptville. Look for snow and sleet to begin overnight and taper to flurries Monday. Between 10-15cm may occur in Kemptville. Further southwest along the 401 from Brockville to Trenton freezing rain is expected and it may be quite steady in places. A Freezing Rain Warning is in effect for those regions.
Winter Weather Advisories are in place for New York State for the same mixture of snow and freezing rain. Further north and east in Montreal and southern Quebec, we will remain on the extreme northern edge of the precipitation. It may snow lightly in Montreal on Monday with gusty northeast winds, and much colder temperatures then today.
Photo: A sign of the seasons as weight restrictions on roads across Ontario and Quebec begin to take effect while the ground thaws. This was near South Mountain today.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Move clocks ahead 1 hour at 2am
It is that time of year again, at least according to the calendar. Time to move the clocks forward one hour Sunday morning at 2am. Daylight Savings Time begins tonight. We will add an hour to our afternoons, and take it away from the morning. So look for it to be bright to end the weekend. The sad part is we give up an hour of sleep tonight.
The weather will be mild all weekend. Yesterdays rain and snow has moved well east of the region. It was very mild on Friday, 10C in Kemptville, 8C in Montreal and a remarkable 17C in Toronto and 19C in Sarnia. Today is cooler but still well above freezing. Rain will begin later today across the region as low pressure nudges in from Illinois, and taper to flurries overnight. Sunday will be mild and partly sunny before another storm form the US Midwest moves into the area with rain and snow for Monday. That system may miss Montreal but Kemptville is expecting some snow. Stay tuned for more info on that later Sunday.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Tomorrow should be fair before another low pressure area from Texas moves into the region late in the day with steady rain into Sunday. Some portions of Ontario and Quebec could see between 15-25mm of rain from late Saturday into Sunday.
Skies will clear late Sunday and it will turn colder as well.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Travel may be poor overnight especially in the Ottawa Valley and the St. Lawrence Valley from Cornwall northeast. The 416, 401, 417, 20 and 40 will be affected.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
It is funny how life can come full circle. I spent the overnight period today delivering Montreal Gazettes for a friend of mine. It is job I did as a teenager and well into my twenties. It was a chilly night but thankfully clear and dry. This was not the case 38 years ago today when one of Montreal’s most famous snowstorms hammered the region. I wrote about that in a post below. I am just going to mention a couple of quick details I came across. The lowest barometric pressure reported in Montreal was an unbelievable 97.29kPa. This is as strong as a hurricane. Peak wind gusts were well over 110km/h. Over 43cm of snow fell in 24 hours with storm totals over 50cm. Power was out in places for up to a week, and 20 people perished in the storm. Some roads were closed for two days under two storey drifts. I remember it well…
Our weather today is much more tranquil, sunny and temperatures close to normal. Weak low pressure will move over the Great Lakes tonight with a warm front approaching the area on Thursday. We can expect some light snow or freezing rain in Kemptville and Montreal on Thursday afternoon. Any precipitation will change to rain on Friday as temperatures warm to well above freezing. Highs will be close to 8C on Friday.
Photos: Above right; a seasonal obstacle, fixing pot holes in north end Montreal. The above photo is Highway 15 south of Montreal yesterday. Despite the sunshine, blowing snow continued to be a problem from Mondays Nor'easter.
Monday, March 02, 2009
While March roared in like a lion from Washington to Halifax it was much more tame in Kemptville and Montreal. Heavy snow fell in many cities along the east coast with schools closed and hundreds of flights cancelled to and from the area. The snow was accompanied by very strong winds. Over 30cm fell in New York City and Boston with even more in interior portions of New Hampshire and Maine. The cut-off for the heavy snow was sharp and the snow made it into the far eastern suburbs of the south shore of Montreal but no further west. Only flurries and brisk north winds were reported in Montreal. The snow and blowing snow will continue tonight in the Townships and northern Vermont with 10-15cm by the end of the precipitation. Keep that in mind if your travels take you along Highway 10 or Interstates 89 and 91.
Montreal road crews in LaSalle were ready today for the snow but it never arrived in the city with just a few flurries.
Photo above: In Virginia and most of the east coast, they were not so lucky with 20-40cm of snow falling from South Carolina to Nova Scotia.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
UPDATE: A major storm over the eastern seaboard will move from Hatteras, NC into the Maratimes by Monday night. Heavy snow and strong winds will affect the coast from the Carolina's northward into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Heavy snow will fall as far west as the Champlain Valley of New York. In Ontario look for gusty winds and bitter cold, while in Montreal the cold will be accompanied by snow and blowing snow with 5cm in Montreal and up to 10cm along the US border.
"If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb."
Some weather sayings are from fact and others are handed down from years of stories and beliefs. This particular saying appears to be one of the latter, there is not much fact associated with the proverb. Yes, very often it is true, but that can be said about the entire month - variable. March is very much a transition month. We are moving our clocks ahead, the sun is getting warmer, and the days are getting much longer. However March is also the month of our biggest snowstorms, record breakers. This included the 43cm of snow that fell on Montreal in March 1971. The blizzard of 71 stands out among other storms for me because of its ferocity. It snowed heavily and the wind blew at 100km/h or more producing zero visibility for nearly 24 hours at Montreal. The barometric pressure was so low it resembled a category 2 hurricane. It was the event that started my interest in weather at a very young age. I was only 5 but remember the day very well as I sat in my window at 7241 LaSalle Blvd in Verdun watching the day unfold. The wind, the heavy snow and the huge drifts it was amazing. The photo to the left is of the 401 closed near Cornwall and littered with trucks during that storm. Below is a story on that day published last year in the Montreal Gazette.
Back in March of '71 ... Snowdrifts two storeys high and 43.2 cm in 24 hours left 17 people dead
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The 316 centimetres of snow that have fallen on Montreal so far this season may seem unbeatable, but we had much worse 37 years ago. That was our snowiest season on record, with a total of 383 centimetres, a quarter of that falling in March. On Thursday, March 4, 1971, as Montrealers were distracted by the 43.2 centimetres of snow that fell in 24 hours, our famously eligible prime minister managed to fly off and get married in secret. Pierre Elliott Trudeau married Margaret Sinclair on March 4 in Vancouver, taking almost everyone but the 12 people in attendance by surprise. Back here, the massive snowfall - dubbed Montreal's Storm of the Century before being eclipsed by the 1998 Ice Storm - left snowdrifts two storeys high. Seventeen people died in the Montreal area, killed by heart attacks, asphyxiation and traffic accidents. Many of the deaths occurred in cars that were stuck in the massive snow dump. Eighty per cent of the highways on and off the island of Montreal were closed for at least a day.
Police commandeered snowmobiles from private citizens to get around. Banks were closed the Friday after the storm and, unusually, opened for three hours on Saturday to accommodate clients. Many businesses sent their employees home early on March 4 and didn't open the next day because of the difficulty in getting around. Getting home the night of the storm was a problem because commuter trains could not get through the deep drifts. Airline passengers were stranded at what was then Dorval International Airport. City buses were operating only on major arteries.
Downtown hotels, bars and restaurants were crowded with stranded workers and merrymakers. There was no home delivery of The Gazette on March 5 because of the road conditions. We apologized. Montrealers had little time to put down their shovels. We got another 17 centimetres of snow on March 7, 1971.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008